(kommer kanske på svenska senare, detta är för våra engelsktalande vänner)
I've got a few proposals the last couple of days, all in context to the release of Google OpenSocial (or soon forthcoming release), the next generation tool to integrate social networks into your web site turning it into a modern portal of user (consumer) friendly functionality where they can write reviews, find buddies, interact etc; and the release of Facebook marketing program "Beacon" where the users are targeted with ads that fits their needs (ie what they do and where they are).
As we did in Emappz a couple of years back, the basic idea is to keep the user occupied while you expose messages or advertising to them, in a way that enhance their experience instead of pissing them of... and also bring that platform into as many places as possible, you could say that it's the combination of what google and acebook wants to do now; and the but question is:
who is closest to the user?
I argue that there is a kind of Maslov's hierarchy to this, in the top is the "urge to communicate" under that is "ways to communicate", "technology enabling ways to communicate", "protocols for communication" and lowest "information highways".
Who are the Information Highway people? Well, it's the broadband guys and the Telecom Girls, they are bound to get into a mess, their brands will be at the level of DB, Deutsche Bahn, German railroads, who get money from communication to pay for maintenance, not much more.
A telco today are living in their best of days, people talk about "which operator" and such, that will disappear, then it's "what's beyond", like who cares which telco Iphone uses, I want the Iphone!
So people don't see the protocols, they just move on, but the way we connect is still in a big blur today, 3G, GSM, IP, Wimax, etc; there is not many devices out there that can take it all...
So the world is still evolving.
And Beacon is not going to do the trick, neither Google. But Google is going into the old traphole.
Software used to be something people admired and payed for, now it's licencing and bundles, and tricks of the vc's, software is an icecube.
If you don't use it now, it will melt and be worthless.
Twentyfive years ago, consultants wrote their own software, and charged customers for it. Then Bill and friends came and SW where bought and used, still billed as a cost, but lower, a revolution. Ten years ago we stopped billing for special software as it was necessary to compete. Now the software is free, thanks to Linus and Google Guys. Another revolution.
So Software is a protocol incapsulated.
Focusing on software will bring you a bit more than railroad maintainance, but not much. Why do Google go that way? Well, they are engineers.
Do you know the story of the two engineers bicycling? The one asks the other "eh, where did you get you pink bike?" The other one answers "well, yesterday, I was walking and a beatiful girl rode past on this bike, stopped, throwed herself to the ground, ripped of her clothes and shouted - Take what ever you want!; so....";
"good you took the bike, the clothes where probably the wrong size"!
Engineers, I know, I am one, to my defence I'm also some other things (weird, ecologist, economist, artist, inventor, mad) so I can see that Google going into software, is going to be hit by a bus.
Google, and others, needs to focus on how and in what ways to communicate with others, getting technology into convergence and bring easy to use, rational services to users; key issue is - give them something that is of real use in everyday life, not just entertainment.
Travelling, we do travel a lot, but we in the navigation business know that users do not travel all the time. So what do we do in between, what do occupy us in the sofa in front of the TV, in front of the computer, what do we do all the time that we should be doing much easier?
Google Guys, don't go into software....